Asheville Masters Swimming founders

Ruth and Kemp Battle

Since Ruth and Kemp became involved in coaching Masters swimming in 2001, they guided the Asheville Masters to three North Carolina short-course masters state championships. The dominance of this small team is dependant on the stroke improvements, motivation, and dedication that these two have brought to the sport.

As Masters swimmers, Ruth holds the state short-course records in the 50 freestyle, butterfly and backstroke and the long-course state record in the 50 breaststroke. Kemp held various state masters records in the 30-50 age groups primarily in the fly and IM. This dedication to excellence and drive to succeed carries over to their commitment as coaches. This drive to perfection is further evidenced by their accomplishments as younger swimmers.

Ruth swam for the local YMCA until she was in 8th grade, when she competed in the YMCA Nationals. She watched the 1976 Summer Olympics, and was inspired to start training seriously through the AAU swimming program. In 1979, George Haines a 4 time head Olympic coach from Santa Clara Ca. took over the Foxcatcher swim program. He helped her to personal bests in the 50 and 100 Meter Freestyle events. The highlight of her swimming career was being ranked 13th in the world in 50 M Free. She also earned 4 All American titles in college at North Carolina State University where she swam on scholarship.

Kemp was also a successful younger swimmer starting at the age of six. Ranked in the top five nationally as an age-group swimmer, he was unbeaten for five years in butterfly as a teen when competing in AAU swimming. After earning a swimming scholarship to the University of Kentucky, he held all of the school records in the butterfly events.

The 2008 Masters State Short-course Championship was a very special meet. After the first day’s results were tallied, the team trailed the much larger host team of Raleigh Area Masters by only a few points. On the second day of competition, the individual members deck entered the maximum number of events and were able to win the meet with plenty of points to spare.

Kemp’s sums up his personal coaching philosophy with this: “The arrival at this point in my life as a person, a physician, a man of faith, an athlete, and as a coach by default is a topic for two old guys in rockers on a dock somewhere with nothing better to do than talk of success and failure, dreams realized and those still in the mist, joys as high as Everest and as low as the Mariana, love, marriage, kids, grandkids, ….and the fact that once upon a time we were Samurai.”

He continues, “I am blessed with two children who are now men to be proud of. I continue to be blessed with the love of an amazing woman. I was blessed with parents who allowed me to discover the great passions of my life: learning and swimming. Learning led me to the profession I love and appreciate more every day, and swimming brought me to coaching. I have come to learn that my true gift is passion itself and the willingness to share it. I can only pray to impart passion by example. The pursuit of excellence has dominated my life. It’s only been in recent years I’ve recognized, accepted, and grown to respect the values and pitfalls of this life. Like the Bushido Code and the Christian ethic, perfection is to be strived for, but never achieved on this earth. The life is worthy. I am not and never will be an ambassador for swimming. Fortunately, we have people like David Marsh and my remarkable wife, Ruth, for that.  My dream still in the mist is that on that dock I’ll be able to say I lifted up one human life and that the guy next to me will call me, with all its implications, ‘Coach’ .”

Ruth’s coaching philosophy is best summed up:
“I sadly injured my shoulder after returning to competition as a Masters swimmer. In some ways I believe this has been a blessing, as it took my focus off of my own swimming and training, and helped me encourage swimmers of all abilities around me. I love my teammates of all ages. I appreciate masters swimming as it has something to offer for every swimmer. I realize that masters swimming has changed my life, and that swimmers of all levels and abilities truly are “winners” getting in and improving there health and lives in spite of all the demands placed on each individual. I’m convinced that this swimming community enriches and enhances my life, and the lives of each participant. I get stoked helping and hopefully motivating swimmers of every level reach and obtain goals, knowing how rewarding swimming can be. I thank God everyday that I wake up and am healthy enough to be a part of such an awesome group of people! Thanks for the opportunity!”